A 1944 letter from a soldier fighting in the South Pacific
I only do this Urban Archeology thing for the coincidences, serendipity, synchronicity
I had just finished the book on CD version of “Flags of our Fathers” which traces the men who raised the flag a top Mount Siribachi during the campaign to take the South Pacific island of Okinawa. The accounts of all the men in the famous and controversial picture taken by an AP photographer.
So, to say this period of history was on my mind when I went looking for my next story could be an understatement.
The first thing I saw when I visited a late September sale in Newtown, CT was a box of WWII-era letters next to the check-out. I scanned them quickly and confirmed what I had suspected - not too interesting I guessed.
Letters between soldiers and their loved ones rarely give any real insight to hell that war is. Reviewed by censors and scrubbed to remove strategic information or any lurid details that could sway public opinion, it is extremely rare to find one written with any detail.
I guessed wrong. When I began looking around the home I learned that one of the relatives was not only a WWII veteran was an officer, and a Marine.
Feeling my deep digging was unwelcome and the prices were outrageous I decided to leave the sale - but not before taking a picture of one of the letter in the box (with permission). A picture would be fine, I thought. Really, I’m a documentarian, a story teller. I don’t need to to buy a box of letters for this one - a photo will do.
As the day progressed and I read the letter in quiet, I realized how wrong I was. I had to have that letter. The question was - could I justify spending the $50 they were charging for the whole box when I knew I wanted just one?
Fortunately, when I returned later in the day, the box was still there. Though I got them down to $40 I knew that this would be the most i might ever pay for a single letter.
Read the letter and you will see that there is a second coincidence - the day I am posting this and the date of the letter.